King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech was delivered at the Riverside Church in New York exactly one year before his assassination. Some civil rights leaders urged King not to speak out on the Vietnam War, but he said he could not separate issues of economic injustice, racism, war, and militarism. (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had issued a statement against the Vietnam War the year before after the murder of Sammy Younge Jr.)
Dr. King’s speech was performed by Michael Ealy, February 1, 2007, at All Saints Church, Pasadena, California. Ealy reads from Voices of a People’s History of the United States edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove.
Here is an excerpt:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death….
Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.
With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain …”
Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter-but beautiful-struggle for a new world. — Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967